Williams v. Williams et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 57 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 60 Motion for Summary Judgment; and adopting Report and Recommendation. Signed by Honorable Patrick Michael Duffy on March 10, 2017.(jmcg, ) (Main Document 116 replaced on 3/10/2017) (ssam, ).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Lance Corporal Kyle Strickland and
Sergeant Walter Criddle,
C.A. No.: 9:15-cv-1118-PMD-MGB
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ objection to United States Magistrate
Judge Mary Gordon Baker’s report and recommendation (“R & R”) (ECF Nos. 113 & 110). The
Magistrate Judge recommends that Defendants’ motion for summary judgment be granted as to
Defendant Walter Criddle, and denied as to Defendant Kyle Strickland. The Magistrate Judge
also recommends that the Court deny Plaintiff Johnnie Williams’ motion for summary judgment.
For the reasons stated herein, the Court overrules the objection and adopts the Magistrate Judge’s
This 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action is based on Williams’ allegations that officers from the
Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office used excessive force against him when they arrested him on
June 29, 2012. According to Williams’ verified amended complaint, he and his son were in
Beaufort to attend a family event at Williams’ mother’s home. While Williams was stopped at a
gas station, Anthony Ancrum asked Williams for a ride to his sister’s apartment, and Williams
agreed. Ancrum got in the back seat because Williams’ son was in the front seat. Williams
states that he was doing his friend a favor by giving him a ride home, and he ended up shot in his
back. Williams claims that Strickland and Criddle were the two officers that fired their weapons
into his car, hitting him in the back. He also claims that it was Strickland’s bullet that hit him in
the back. Williams believes that the officers were there to ambush him.
Defendants allege the following additional details in support of their motion. According
to them, officers Strickland, Criddle, and Heroux 1 were assigned to a drug task force and were
working on June 29, 2012. Around 9:00 PM, Heroux saw Williams’ car and ran the tag through
Beaufort County Dispatch. He learned that the tag had been stolen, and was told to stop
Williams’ car. When Williams turned into the Canal Apartments where Ancrum lived, Heroux
activated his blue lights and siren. Williams initially stopped, and then drove toward the rear of
the apartment complex. Williams then stopped the car in a parking space and Heroux got out of
his car and approached the driver’s door. Strickland and Criddle arrived at the scene and also got
out of their vehicle. When Heroux was ten feet away from Williams’ car, the driver looked at
Heroux, turned the wheels to the right, and quickly reversed his car, causing the front end of the
Cadillac to violently whip around in Heroux’s direction. Heroux backed up toward his car and
claims that he believed Williams was trying to kill him with his car. Heroux drew his duty
weapon and started to approach Williams’ car, and saw that Strickland was walking up to the car
as well. Williams then swerved towards Heroux, straightened out the car, and then accelerated
toward Strickland. Heroux claims to have believed Strickland’s life was in danger and fired
three or four times at Williams. Strickland also fired three or four shots, allegedly into the front
windshield. Criddle never fired his duty weapon.
After the shooting was over, Williams’ car crashed into a small tree and the engine
stopped. The officers approached the vehicle and saw that Williams and Ancrum had been shot.
1. As noted by the Magistrate Judge, Heroux was not named in Williams’ amended complaint and was therefore
terminated as a party to this action.
The officers handcuffed Williams and Ancrum, and Williams asked them why they had shot him.
Heroux responded, saying that Williams had tried to kill him by running him over. While
Williams claimed not to have tried to run Heroux over, Ancrum stated, “Yeah you did!” (Defs.’
Mot. Summ. J., Heroux Aff., ECF No. 57-3, at ¶ 38.) The South Carolina Law Enforcement
Division (“SLED”) took Heroux’s and Strickland’s duty weapons at the scene, and Williams and
Ancrum were transported to the hospital.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The R & R has no
presumptive weight, and the responsibility for making a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270–71 (1976). Parties may make written objections to
the Magistrate Judge’s recommendations and proposed findings within fourteen days after being
served with a copy of the R & R. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court must conduct a de novo
review of any portion of the R & R to which a specific objection is made, and the Court may
accept, reject, or modify the Magistrate Judge’s findings and recommendations in whole or in
Additionally, the Court may recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. Id. A party’s failure to object is taken as the party’s agreement with the Magistrate
Judge’s conclusions. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 151–52 (1985). Absent a timely,
specific objection—or as to those portions of the R & R to which no specific objection is made—
this Court “must ‘only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order
to accept the recommendation.’” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310,
315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 advisory committee’s note).
Strickland objects to the portion of the R & R in which the Magistrate Judge recommends
that their motion for summary judgment be denied as it pertains to him. 2 He specifically objects
to the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that there are genuine issues of material fact that preclude
In his objection, Strickland offers new evidence that was apparently
unavailable at the time they filed their motion: a SLED report stating that SLED was unable to
determine whether the bullet extracted from Williams was fired by Strickland. The SLED report
contrasts with the position both Williams and Defendants took when briefing their respective
motions for summary judgment. In those briefs, the parties seemed to agree that Strickland fired
the shot that hit Williams. Magistrate Judge Baker partially based her recommendation that the
Court deny Defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to Strickland on the inconsistency
between the medical evidence—that Williams and Ancrum were shot in the back—and
Defendants’ statement that it was Strickland’s bullet, fired through the front windshield, that hit
Williams. The distinction matters because the Fourth Circuit has held that after the threat of
immediate harm has passed, an officer may not use deadly force to apprehend a suspect.
Waterman v. Batton, 393 F.3d 471, 482 (4th Cir. 2005).
Although the new report casts doubt on whether it was Strickland or Heroux that fired the
bullet that struck Williams, that doubt does not eliminate the genuine issues of material fact.
SLED’s report, though relevant, does not conclusively show that Strickland was not the person
who shot Williams. In fact, according to the SLED report, it is impossible to determine which
officer’s bullet struck Williams. Thus, the SLED report does not confirm Strickland’s initial
2. Neither side has filed objections to the remainder of the R & R. The Court has reviewed it for clear error and
assertion that he shot Williams through the front windshield. Instead, there is still an unresolved
question of fact as to who shot Williams, and from where. Accordingly, the Court agrees with
the Magistrate Judge that there are genuine issues of material fact surrounding the circumstances
of the shooting that preclude summary judgment in favor of Strickland.
For the reasons stated herein, it is ORDERED that Defendants’ objection to the R & R is
OVERRULED. Accordingly, the Court ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment be GRANTED as to Criddle and DENIED as to
Strickland. The Court further ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that Williams’
motion for summary judgment be DENIED.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
March 10 2017
Charleston, South Carolina
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